September 22, 2023

Aug 31, 2022
No one wins when teachers trade their classrooms for the picket line.
Undeniably, that will be the case in Niles if the teachers union makes good on its promise to strike if a new labor pact is not agreed upon by midnight Thursday.
Public school employee strikes always breed ill will in the community — some targeted at the teachers, some at the administration. Probably most often, ill will is aimed at both sides.
Yes, that’s bad for the elected officials, and it’s bad for the teachers.
However, work stoppages due to labor contract disputes is hardest on the students. After suffering through online schooling for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most kids are eager to get back to the classroom for a normal year. We know their parents share that hope.
Frankly, they should be hopeful. Kids learn better in the classroom — with their regular teachers.
The kids will suffer most if no agreement is struck between the Niles Education Association and the school district.
The NEA tells us that, in the event of a walkout, the school district is preparing to move classes online.
But we believe such classes generally are much less effective than in-person classes. We also believe it’s even worse when these classes are being taught by substitute teachers. There is a very good possibility that many of those classes will end up being little more than study halls or simply assigned readings online or in textbooks.
Now let us be clear. We are not taking sides here.
What we are saying is that both the teachers union and the school district need to get more serious about aggressively pursuing a solution.
Gaps of time that have passed between contract negotiating sessions did not help. Both sides must stop dragging their feet and get down to business.
And while we appreciate public updates on this matter, news conferences must not be an attempt to sway the court of public opinion. In this case, the only people who need to be agreeable are the negotiating teams and the entities that will vote to accept tentative contracts.
Representatives from both the teachers and the school district, joined by mediators, not only must go to the table, but we urge them to commit to staying at the table.
Nothing will be accomplished if they are walking away from talks because of a looming deadline.
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